While managers and executives can spend their time hemming, hawing, and trying to guess whether or not an employee is planning on quitting, there has been very little research done on the subject.
Because of that, Timothy Gardner (Professor at Utah State University) and Peter Hom (Professor at Arizona State University) conducted studies into the signs and signals that an employee is likely to quit.
The researchers found some habits that might have appeared to be solid predictors were not true indicators of someone quitting, while other behavioral changes that may have been chalked up to having a bad day were strong signals that an employee is considering voluntarily leaving the position.
After several rounds of surveys, studies and analysis, the authors found that these are the top 10 signs that someone is about to quit their job:
- Decrease in productivity.
- Lower tendency to work as a team player.
- Doing the minimum amount of work for much longer periods of time.
- Less interest in pleasing managers.
- Hesitation to commit to long-term deadlines and projects.
- More negative attitude.
- Putting forth less effort and having less motivation.
- Being less focused on the job and other employer-related matters.
- Expressing greater and more frequent job dissatisfaction.
- Expressing greater and more frequent dissatisfaction with supervisors.
Many of these are more subtle hints than employers usually expect to see. Typically, managers are on the lookout for telltale and widely circulated folkloric signals. However, according to the study, these signal are very infrequent in practice and include things such as:
- Wearing more casual work apparel.
- Leaving printed copies of resumes in the open.
- Arriving late for work or having more doctor’s appointments than in the past.
- Asking co-workers for contacts at other organizations.
- Demonstrating bad or poor attitude, or anger.
If you’re a manager, it’s important to start making sure your employees (especially top performers) don’t quit unexpectedly and too soon. Communicate with your staff to see what they like and don’t like about their jobs. Then look for ways to motivate them and increase the chances of them staying.
If you’re an employee who is unsatisfied, remember that you might have been exhibiting these behaviors, even subconsciously, for months. To avoid any hints that you are looking to quit, keep giving your best and showing enthusiasm for the organization. Don’t drop your productivity, continue to work as a team player, and take note of any of the other 10 indicators you might be showing.